The first Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) to be designated specifically to protect water voles has been announced by English Nature.
The 9,000 ha Dungeness, Romney Marsh and Rye Bay SSSI [view a map of the area] unites eight existing sites (Dungeness, Walland Marsh, Cheyne Court, Romney Warren and North Lade in Kent; and Camber Sands and Rye Salting, Rye Harbour and Pett Level in East Sussex) and also includes 2,300 hectares of newly notified land. It is the largest shingle foreland in Europe – remarkable for its shingle beaches, sand dunes, grazing marsh and patterns of shingle deposits and soils.
The new SSSI is one of the best in Britain for invertebrates, supporting many rare and scarce species associated with shingle and sand dune habitats and wetlands. The site is home to Britainâ€™s only population of the Sussex Emerald Moth.
As well as telling the story of how the areaâ€™s unusual coastline has formed over the past 5,000 years, the habitats on the site are of national importance, and the shingle beach and its wetlands are internationally recognised.
More details can be found on the English Nature website.